I finally got around to trying a zero-waste sewing pattern! This is the Brumer Wrap Dress by Milan AV-JC.
And I’m “on location” in Costa Rica! I made this dress as a beach cover up so naturally it was necessary to get to a beach ASAP in order to test it out. 😉
So what is a zero-waste pattern? In essence, it’s designed to use up every square inch of a given length of fabric — no scraps are leftover. The pattern pieces all interlock with one another on the pattern sheet like a completed jigsaw puzzle. Once you print out and tape together the PDF, you don’t have to then cut out individual pattern pieces from the paper — just lay the giant rectangle of paper directly on top of the fabric, pin it on, and then cut apart the individual pieces. Here’s a photo of what that looks like from Milan AV-JC’s video:
It strikes me that having no wasted bits of fabric means two things: 1) that the designer has to be very clever to sort this out and still come up with a wearable design; and 2) that the garment is going to be a little different than what you’re used to, because of the limited way the designer can shape the pattern pieces without leaving any gaps between them. It’s the “a little different” that drew me to this wrap dress.
I’d describe it as a relaxed-fit dress, having long rectangles that overlap in the front which create a deep-V neckline and sort of extended sleeve caps. It’s all cinched together with a belt that can be tied underneath or on top of the top-most front wrap. (In these photos, I’ve got the belt tied underneath that layer.)
I used an outrageously loud pink print of cranes (because I am crazy for any fabric with stork-like birds on it, and also because I may be just plain crazy). It is a cotton shirting with a bit of elastane, although the stretch factor is not needed at all for this pattern. In retrospect, I think the fabric is a tiny bit ‘stiff’ for this design: the sleeves kinda stuck out too far from my shoulders and a lighter fabric would probably not have been a problem. I ended up trimming back the the fabric to bring the shoulder (sleeve?) edges in closer — so ultimately I did create a little fabric waste. The dress might have been more suitable in a cotton lawn.
Pattern-matching fanatics beware: because the pattern pieces are not separated from each other before you cut the fabric, the pattern placement simply is where it is. You’ll have to give over control to the universe if you use a printed fabric. (I can hear collective choking on coffee from all the control freaks out there!) You can see below that my patch pockets aren’t pattern-matched — but hey, do I really NEED pattern matching when I’ve chosen as wild a print as this??
I found the placement of the pockets a bit too low down — I reattached them about 15 cm higher than called for, but they’re still a bit awkward, especially because one pocket is behind the front panel and when my hands are in the pickets I look like I’m standing around with my hands near my crotch under my dress. Not a good look. I will probably add a snap around the bust, as the v-neck is very deep and easily shifts around as I move. That’s not really a problem when used as a beach cover up, but as a dress it would be a different matter.
I love the way the front panels overlap asymmetrically at the bottom.
Other things to note about the pattern: The size range is limited (34 to 42). And you must have the right width of fabric: 140 cm for sizes 34 to 38 and even wider for 40 and 42. When I set out to make this I had a plain chambray-like fabric from my stash in mind but it was not wide enough. This pink fabric was actually my third choice, but it was the only fabric I had that was wide enough.
These photos were taken on the beach in the village of Cabuya in Puntarenas Province in Costa Rica. The dogs run freely here and are very friendly and happy to spend time hanging around with anyone who gives good pats. This is ‘scrub brush’, who lives near the beach.
The pattern does not come with printed instructions but rather an instructional video which takes you through all the steps. It’s not my favourite way of sewing as I had to keep pausing and rewinding the video…I’m definitely in the written-instructions-with-illustrations camp.
My overall impression is that this isn’t an ‘everyday’ dress, but I do love the idea of it as a beach cover up. (My particular version is a little too heavy for a beach cover in hot climates, so if I do ever make another I will use a much lighter fabric.) It was really interesting to see how a zero-waste pattern comes together. And it’s definitely “a little different,” isn’t it?
Have you ever tried a zero-waste pattern? Any that you’d recommend? Please let me know in the comments.
Thanks for stopping by!